Page images
PDF
EPUB

In the course of the work we are indulged with many similar flights, of which some are expressed with a spirit of such superlative indignation as to become truly ludicrous, and at which it is with difficulty we refrain from smiling. The worshippers of the calves, set up by Jeroboam, are apostrophised for their folly by the prophets in the severest terms; but the nature of their idolatry seems to have remained a secret till revealed to the right reverend author before us, who thus offers us his instruction.

+ These calves of Jeroboam's, by the way, seem to have been muti. lated imitations of the cherubic emblems. Thus they were very significant symbols of a religion founded on misbelief, and upon the selfconceit of natural reason, discarding revelation, and, by its boasted powers, forming erroneous notions of the Godhead.

• The cherubim of the temple, and the calves of Dan and Bethel, were both hieroglyphical figures ;-the one of God's institution; the other of man's, in direct contravention of the second commandment. The cherub was a compound figure; the calf single. Jeroboam, therefore, and his subjects were unitarians. And when his descendants added to the idolatry of the calves the worship of Baal, they became materialists ; for the most ancient pagan idolatry was neither more nor less than an allegorised materialism. The deification of dead men was the corruption of later periods of idolatry, when idolaters had forgotten the meaning of their original symbols and their original rites. It was not therefore without reason that the ancient fathers considered the nation of the ten tribes as a general type of heresy' P. ix.

His lordship seems to have forgotten that the calf moulded by Aaron was anterior to the cherubs of the temple, and that the sin of Jeroboam was similar to that of the Israëlites in the desert; viz. an attempt to represent the Godhead under a visible form, and the degrading adoration of a creature in place of the creator. • These are thy gods!' said Aaron to the house of Israël; an exclamation literally repeated by Jeroboam when he pointed to his abominable devices. Hence it is most probable that they rejected entirely the idea of the unity of God, and were filled with the absurd and degrading superstitions of Egypt. To us the worship of the calves appears idolatry in the worst sense of the term: as such, indeed, it appeared to Moses; and the divine indignation against it was expressed in the most pointed manner. But the bishop doubts whether it were idolatry of any kind.

· The worship of Jeroboam's calves was the least part of their guilt; for it was not proper idolatry; it was a schismatical worship of the true God, under disallowed emblems, and by an usurping priesthood. But at length superstition made such a progress among them, that human sacrifices were made an essential rite in the worship of the calves. And this was the finishing stroke, the last stage of their impiety; that they said, “ Let the sacrificers of men kiss the calves.” Let them consider themselves as the most acceptable worshipper who approach the image with human blood. “Kiss the calves;" i.e. worship the calves. Among the ancient idolaters, to kiss the idol was an act of the most solemn adoration. Thus we read in Holy Writ of “all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” Tully mentions a brazen statue of Hercules at Agrigentum, in which the workmanship of the mouth was sensibly worn by the frequent kisses of the worshippers. And in allusion to this rite, the holy psalmist, calling upon the apostate faction to avert the wrath of the incarnate God,

by full acknowledgement of his divinity, bids them “kiss the son ;" i. c. worship him.' P. 43.

The word hell is much misunderstood by those who generally use it; and the interpretation of its real meaning gives the author a good opportunity of lashing the Jacobins. Their folly assuredly deserves the severest reprehension ; but it seems useless to attempt preserving their memory in a work like the present.

• Of this place we know little ; except that to those who die in the Lord it is a place of comfort and rest ;-not

a Jacobinical paradise of eternal sleep and senselessness, but a place of happy rest and tranquil hope. In the prophetic imagery it is often mentionod, with allusion to the popular notions, as a dark cave decp in the bowels of the earth.' P. 46.

From the many extraordinary conceits advanced in this work, we cannot avoid amusing our readers with one which nevertheless appears to be a little out of place, and to be rather an attempt of a commentator of the dark ages than a conjecture of a modern critic of no mean degree of Biblical celebrity. In the Old Testament we find repeated mention of Jehova, Jehovah Elohim, and Malak Jehova ; in all which expressions Jehova is the appropriate name of the supreme Being. Jehova Elohim is his name, in conjunction with his relationship to his people : Jehova is God; and in some places is expressed by the term God of Gods: and Malak Jehova is simply a messenger of Jehova. But our learned prelate will not allow this latter translation to be correct. “It is not,' says he, 'a messenger of Jehova, but. Jehova angel; and Jehova and ongel are two nouns-substantive in apposition, both speaking of the same person-the one by the appropriate name of the essence, the other by a title of office. Now if malak be allowed to be a term of office, we must inquire what office it implies: and the uniform meaning in the Scriptures leads us to form only one notion of it; to wit, that of a conveyer of messages. Malak, angelus, or angel, arc indeed perfectly synonymous, and equally import this idca of a messenger or conveyer of messages. If then the Jehova of the Old Testament be degraded ito a messenger, we must next in

quire by whom he was employed, and what the title and authority of his employer. At the same time we would request our learned author's attention to the thirty-third chapter of Exodus, where the distinction between Jehova and malak is too evident to be mistaken by any one. On the act of idolatry of the Israëlites towards the golden calf, Jehova, in his anger, refuses to show them farther marks of his peculiar favour ; yet, in remembrance of his covenant with their fathers, he promises to send with them a malak-a messenger. The malak may be either an inhabitant of earth, or an inhabitant of heaven : but Jehova is never thus represented in Scripture, nor is it possible that he could be so represented, by the term malok, as the office hereby implied is incompatible with the supreme dignity of him who is God of Gods, and has no superior. Besides, if malak could be thus a noun-substantive in apposition, we would humbly submit to the writer's consideration, whether the demonstrative article were not necessary, according to the Hebrew idiom ; in consequence of which, instead of malak, it should have been written hamalak.

We can as little subscribe to another remark on the name Jehovah; that this term

• belonging to the three persons indiscriminately, as simply descriptive of the essence, the compound Jehovah-Sabaoth belongs properly to the second person, being his appropriate demiurgic title ; describing not merely the Lord of such armies as military leaders bring into the field, but the unmade self-existent maker and sustainer of the whole array and order of the universe.

In what manner this well-known demiurgic title can be applied with more appropriation to the second person than to the third, we are uninformed by any Scripture proof.

But, if the author's reins be in this way sometimes let loose to fancy, we cannot but applaud the vigor with which the conjectural mode of interpreting the Scriptures is resisted in this translation. There are certainly several very difficult passages in Hosea : yet to relinquish the received text upon conjecture alone is a very dangerous enterprise, and should certainly never be resorted to till the assistance vierivable from the Masoretic punctuation and the different versions has entirely failed: and even then the conjectural reading should be pointed out to the multitude as simple hypothesis. A list of the supposed emendations of the text by archbishop Newcome, which are rejected by our author, is given in the preface; and in most places we prefer the text adopted by the latter, which is that of Vander Hooght, in 8vo. 1705.-a text he only varies in nineteen places, in all which he has the authority of other printed texts, versions, or manuscripts, to support him. On the authority also of versions, we meet with some excellent remarks; and

P. 226.

the great degree of credit attached to the Septuagint is much weakened by a very just observation which too often escapes the attention of the learned.

With respect to the Greek version of the LXX in particular, it may reasonably be made a doubt, whether the MSS from which it was made, were they now extant, would be entitled to the same degree of credit as our modern Hebrew text, notwithstanding their comparatively high antiquity. There is certainly much reason to believe that, after the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps from a somewhat earlier period, the Hebrew text was in a much worse state of corruption, in the copies which were in private hands, than it has ever been since the revision of the sacred books by Ezra. These inaccurate copies would be multiplied during the whole period oi the captivity, and widely scattered in Assyria, Persia, and Egypt; in short, through all the regions of the dispersion. The text, as revised by Ezra, was certainly of much higher credit than any of these copies, notwithstanding their greater antiquity. His edition succeeded, as it were, to the prerogatives of an autograph,—the autographs of the inspired writers themselves being totally lost,--and was henceforward to be considered as the only source of authentic texts : insomuch, that the comparative merit of any text now extant will depend upon the probable degree of its approximation to, or distance from, the Esdrine edition. Now, if the translation of the LXX was made from some of those old MSS which the dispersed Jews had carried into Egypt, or from any other of those unauthenticated copies,—which is the prevailing tradition among the Jews, and is very probable, at least it cannot be confuted,—it will be likely that the faultiest MS now extant differs less from the genuine Esdrine text than those more ancient, which the version of the LXX represents.' P. xxxvi,

If this be the real character of the Septuagint in its original form, what must be the degree of reliance upon it now that it appears with all the confusion introduced into it from the wellmeant labours of Origen, and is in fact so entangled with other versions, that it is a Herculean labour to free it from its impurities?

Hosea, as we have already confessed, in common with the other Jewish prophets, has his difficulties; but, perhaps, in none are the main scope and tenor of the prophecy more easily discerned. The prophet is intent on one object--the transgression of the sons of Israel, its consequences, and their final recovery. The situation of the ten tribes engrosses the chief part of his attention ; but the fate of Judah is incidentally touched upon, and its comparatively inferior guilt prior to its dispersion. The relation of God to his people is depicted under the image of the , love of a husband to his wife; and hence the apostasy of the latter is shadowed under the strong terms of fornication and adultery. To the supposed refinement of modern days such language may appear very gross, and scarcely justifiable ; but

too often, it is to be feared, this will arise from a secret reluctance to admit the grievous enormity of such transgressions : the abominable sacrifices of the offenders, their detestable absurdity in the worship of images, cannot be painted in too odious figures; and the history of the Christian church is a proof that language too energetic could not possibly be used; as the fate of the Israëlites, and the expostulations of the prophets, have not prevented innumerable bodies of Christians from falling into similar delusions--from deserting the true God, and surrendering themselves to her who is in Scripture described as the mysterious Babylon, the mother of whoredom and abominations of the earth.

To make a deeper impression on the Ephraimites, Hosea is ordered to marry a woman of loose and disorderly life, a just image of themselves for many generations. Of her he has three children, to whom significant names are given. The first is Jezraël, which is interpreted by our author a seed of God, and is supposed to delineate the true worshippers of the divinity, who had been persecuted by the house of Jehu. To this meaning we can by no means accede; for it does not appear that the house of Jehu were, as the author would represent them to be, persecutors of the true worshippers; and in the instance of the affectionate address of Joash to Elisha on his death-bed, we have sufficient grounds for a contrary persuasion. The interpretation given by the prophet leads indeed to a very different meaning. The child Jezraël was a sign to the nation, to revive the memory of the blood shed by Jehu in Jezraël, and the promise of God that his family should sit on the throne to the fourth generation. History informis us that this prophecy was fulfilled, and, at the time the child was born, namely, in the reign of Jeroboam, it was foretold that in a few years more the house of Jehu should be destroyed. Yet it is said, why should God visit the blood of Jezrael upon Jehu, since the act of Jehu was declared to be agreeable to God? But it is to be recollected, that the whole h. use of Jehu plunged into the iniquities for which that of their predecessors had been extirpated. Hence the divine retribution on Jehu's family was just; and history assures us, to speak in common language, that Ahab's family was avenged, for that the house of Jehu perished by a similar conspiracy. The name of Jezraël, moreover, seems by no means to admit the interpretation of "seed of God' from the remaining part of the prophecy, and I will abolish the kingdom of the house of Israël. Thus the name of Jezraël was an important sign to the nation. Jehu's family was soon after extirpated; and from that period the symptoms of the abolition of their kingdom became evident, and their dispersion was ascertained to be as inevitable as the fate of the former family.

The birth and names of the two other children do 110t afford

« PreviousContinue »